Sabtu, 06 Mei 2017

11 Probiotic Foods That Are Super Healthy

Probiotics are live microorganisms that have health benefits when consumed (1).

These are usually beneficial bacteria that serve some function in the body.

Probiotics have all sorts of powerful benefits for your body and brain.

They may improve digestive health, reduce depression and promote heart health (2, 3, 4).

Some evidence even suggests that they may give you better looking skin (5).

Getting probiotics from supplements is popular, but you can also get them from foods that are prepared by bacterial fermentation (fermented foods).

Here is a list of 11 super healthy fermented foods that contain live probiotics.

1. Yogurt

Yogurt is a highly nutritious dairy product made from fermented milk.

The milk is fermented with friendly bacteria, mainly lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria (6).

Eating yogurt has been associated with many health benefits, including improved bone health. It is also beneficial for people with high blood pressure (7, 8).

In children, yogurt may help reduce diarrhea caused by antibiotics. It can even help relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (9, 10, 11).

Additionally, yogurt may be better than milk for people with lactose intolerance. This is because the bacteria turn some of the lactose into lactic acid, which is also why yogurt tastes sour.

However, keep in mind that not all yogurt contains live probiotics. In some cases, the live bacteria have been killed during processing.

For this reason, make sure to choose yogurt with active or life cultures.

Also, make sure to always read the label on yogurt before you buy it. Even if it is labeled low-fat or fat-free, it may still be loaded with high amounts of added sugar.

Bottom Line: Probiotic yogurt is linked to a number of health benefits. It may also be more suitable than milk for people with lactose intolerance. Make sure to choose yogurt that has active or life cultures.

2. Kefir

Kefir is a fermented milk drink. It is made by adding kefir grains to cow or goat milk.
kefir drink in a big jug

Kefir grains are not cereal grains, but rather cultures of lactic acid bacteria and yeast that look a bit like cauliflower.

The word kefir allegedly comes from the Turkish word keyfir, which means feeling good after eating (12).

In fact, kefir has been linked to various health benefits.

It may improve bone health, help with some digestive problems and protect against infections (2, 13, 14).

While yogurt is probably the best known probiotic food in the Western diet, kefir is actually a better source. Kefir contains several major strains of friendly bacteria and yeast, making it a diverse and potent probiotic (15).

Like yogurt, kefir is generally well-tolerated by people who are lactose intolerant (16).

Bottom Line: Kefir is a fermented milk drink. It is a better source of probiotics than yogurt, and people with lactose intolerance can often eat kefir with no problems.

3. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is finely shredded cabbage that has been fermented by lactic acid bacteria.
bowl of sauerkraut

It is one of the oldest traditional foods and is popular in many countries, especially in Europe.

Sauerkraut is often used on top of sausages or as a side dish. It has a sour, salty taste and can be stored for months in an airtight container.

In addition to its probiotic qualities, sauerkraut is rich in fiber, as well as vitamins C, B and K. It is also high in sodium and contains iron and manganese (17).

Sauerkraut also contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for eye health (17, 18).

However, make sure to choose unpasteurized sauerkraut. Pasteurization kills the live and active bacteria.

Bottom Line: Sauerkraut is finely cut, fermented cabbage. It is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Make sure to choose unpasteurized brands that contain live bacteria.

4. Tempeh

korean woman holding a food

Tempeh is a fermented soybean product. It forms a firm patty, and people have described the flavor as nutty, earthy or similar to a mushroom.

Tempeh is originally from Indonesia but has become popular all over the world as an high-protein meat substitute.

The fermentation process actually has some surprising effects on its nutritional profile.

Soybeans are typically high in phytic acid, a plant compound that impairs the absorption of minerals like iron and zinc.

However, the fermentation process lowers the amount of phytic acid, which may increase the number of minerals the body is able to absorb from tempeh (19, 20).

Another interesting byproduct of this process is that the bacteria produce some vitamin B12, a nutrient that soybeans do not contain (21, 22, 23).

Vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal foods, such as meat, fish, dairy products and eggs (24).

This makes tempeh an overall great choice for vegetarians, as well as anyone looking to add a nutritious probiotic to their diet.

Bottom Line: Tempeh is a fermented soybean product. It is a popular, high-protein substitute for meat. It also contains a decent amount of vitamin B12, a nutrient found mainly in animal products.

5. Kimchi

Kimchi is a fermented, spicy Korean side dish.
plate of kimchi

Cabbage is usually the main ingredient, but it can also be made from other vegetables.

A mix of seasonings is used for flavors, such as red chili pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, scallion, and salt.

Kimchi contains the lactic acid bacteria Lactobacillus kimchi, as well as other lactic acid bacteria that may benefit digestive health (25, 26).

Kimchi made from cabbage is high in some vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and iron (17).

Bottom Line: Kimchi is a spicy Korean side dish, usually made from fermented cabbage. It contains lactic acid bacteria, which may benefit digestive health.

6. Miso

Miso is a Japanese seasoning.
three different kinds of miso paste

It is traditionally made by fermenting soybeans with salt and a type of fungus called koji.

Miso can also be made by mixing soybeans with other ingredients, like barley, rice, and rye.

This paste is most often used in miso soup, a popular breakfast food in Japan. Miso is typically salty, and you can buy it in many varieties, such as white, yellow, red and brown.

Miso is a good source of protein and fiber. It is also high in various vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, including vitamin K, manganese, and copper (17).

Miso has also been linked to some health benefits.

One study reported that frequent miso soup consumption was associated with a lower risk of breast cancer in middle-aged Japanese women (27).

Another study found that women who ate a lot of miso soup had a reduced risk of stroke (28).

Bottom Line: Miso is a fermented soybean paste and a popular Japanese seasoning. It is rich in several important nutrients and may reduce the risk of cancer and stroke, especially in women.

7. Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented black or green tea drink.
kombucha tea

This popular tea is fermented by a friendly colony of bacteria and yeast. It is consumed in many parts of the world, especially Asia.

On the internet, there are many claims about the potential health effects of kombucha tea.

However, high-quality evidence on kombucha is lacking.

The studies that exist are the animal and test tube studies, and the results may not apply to humans (29).

Yet, because kombucha is fermented with bacteria and yeast, it does probably have health benefits related to its probiotic properties.

Bottom Line: Kombucha is a fermented tea drink. It is claimed to have a wide range of health benefits, but human evidence for these claims is currently lacking.

8. Pickles

Pickles (also known as gherkins) are cucumbers that have been pickled in a solution of salt and water.
pickles in a jar

They are left to ferment for some time, using their own naturally present lactic acid bacteria. This process is what makes them sour.

Pickled cucumbers are a great source of healthy probiotic bacteria, which may improve digestive health.

They are low in calories and a good source of vitamin K, an essential nutrient for blood clotting. Pickles also tend to be high in sodium (17).

It is important to note that pickles made with vinegar do not contain live probiotics.

Bottom Line: Pickles are cucumbers that have been pickled in salt water and fermented. They are low in calories and high in vitamin K. However, pickles made using vinegar do not have probiotic effects.

9. Traditional Buttermilk

The term buttermilk actually refers to a range of fermented dairy drinks.

brunette drinking milk with milk mustach

However, there are two main types of buttermilk: traditional and cultured.

Traditional buttermilk is simply the leftover liquid from making butter. Only this version contains probiotics, and it is sometimes called Grandmas probiotic.

Traditional buttermilk is mainly consumed in India, Nepal and Pakistan.

Cultured buttermilk, commonly found in American supermarkets, generally does not have any probiotic benefits.

Buttermilk is low in fat and calories but contains several important vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12, riboflavin, calcium and phosphorus (17).

Bottom Line: Traditional buttermilk is a fermented dairy drink mainly consumed in India, Nepal and Pakistan. Cultured buttermilk, found in American supermarkets, does not have any probiotic benefits.

10. Natto

Japanese food with natto

Natto is another fermented soybean product, like tempeh and miso.

It contains a bacterial strain called Bacillus subtilis.

Natto is a staple in Japanese kitchens. It is typically mixed with rice and served with breakfast.

It has a distinctive smell, slimy texture, and strong flavor. Natto is rich in protein and vitamin K2, which is important for bone health and cardiovascular health (17, 30, 31).

A study in older Japanese men found that consuming natto on a regular basis was associated with higher bone mineral density. This is attributed to the high vitamin K2 content of natto (32).

Other studies suggest that natto may help prevent osteoporosis in women (33, 34).

Bottom Line: Natto is a fermented soy product that is a staple in Japanese kitchens. It contains a high amount of vitamin K2, which may help prevent osteoporosis and heart attacks.

11. Some Types of Cheese


Although most types of cheese are fermented, that does not mean that all of them contain probiotics.

Therefore, it is important to look for live and active cultures on the food labels.

The good bacteria survive the aging process in some cheeses, including Gouda, mozzarella, cheddar and cottage cheese (35, 36).

Cheese is highly nutritious and is a very good source of protein. It is also rich in important vitamins and minerals, including calcium, vitamin B12, phosphorus and selenium (37).

Moderate consumption of dairy products, such as cheese, may even lower the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis (38, 39).

Bottom Line: Only some types of cheese contain probiotics, including cheddar, mozzarella, and gouda. Cheese is very nutritious, and may benefit heart and bone health.

Probiotic Foods Are Incredibly Healthy

There are many super healthy probiotic foods you can eat.

This includes numerous varieties of fermented soybeans, dairy, and vegetables. Eleven of those are mentioned here, but there are many more out there.

If you can�t or won�t eat any of these foods, then you can also take a probiotic supplement. There are many types available on Amazon.

Probiotics, from both foods and supplements, can have powerful effects on health.

Jumat, 05 Mei 2017

How Probiotics Can Help You Lose Weight and Belly Fat

woman pondering yogurtProbiotics are live microorganisms that have health benefits when eaten (1).

They are found in both supplements and fermented foods.

Probiotics may improve digestive health, heart health and immune function, to name a few (2,3, 4, 5).

Several studies also suggest that probiotics can help you lose weight and belly fat.

Gut Bacteria May Affect Body Weight Regulation

There are hundreds of different microorganisms in your digestive system.

The majority of these are bacteria, most of which are friendly. Friendly bacteria produce several important nutrients, including vitamin K and certain B-vitamins.

They also help break down fiber that the body can�t digest, turning it into beneficial short-chain fatty acids like butyrate (6).

There are two main families of good bacteria in the gut: bacteroidetes and firmicutes. Body weight seems be related to the balance of these two families of bacteria (7, 8).

Both human and animal studies have found that normal-weight people have different gut bacteria than overweight or obese people (9, 10, 11).

In those studies, people with obesity had more firmicutes and fewer bacteroidetes, compared to normal-weight people.

There are also some animal studies showing that when the gut bacteria from obese mice are transplanted into guts of lean mice, the lean mice get fat (11).

All of these studies suggest that gut bacteria may play a powerful role in weight regulation.

Bottom Line: There are many different microorganisms in the gut, mostly bacteria. Several lines of evidence suggest that these gut bacteria can have powerful effects on body weight.

How Can Probiotics Affect Changes in Weight?

woman holding probiotic and apple

It is thought that certain probiotics may inhibit the absorption of dietary fat, increasing the amount of fat excreted with feces (12).

In other words, they make you �harvest� fewer calories from the foods in your diet.

Certain bacteria, such as those from the Lactobacillus family, have been found to function in this way (12, 13).

Probiotics may also fight obesity in other ways:

  • Release of GLP-1: Probiotics may help release the satiety (appetite-reducing) hormone GLP-1. Increased levels of this hormone may help you burn calories and fat (14, 15).
  • Increase of ANGPTL4: Probiotics may increase levels of the protein ANGPTL4. This may lead to decreased fat storage (16).

There is also a lot of evidence that obesity is linked to inflammation in the brain. By improving gut health, probiotics may reduce systemic inflammation and protect against obesity and other diseases (17, 18).

However, it is important to keep in mind that these mechanisms aren�t understood very well. More research is needed.

Bottom Line: Probiotics may reduce the number of calories you absorb from food. They also affect hormones and proteins related to appetite and fat storage. They may also reduce inflammation, which can drive obesity.

Probiotics May Help You Lose Weight and Belly Fat

Studies have found that certain strains of theLactobacillus family can help you lose weight and belly fat.
fresh yogurt min

In one study, eating yogurt with Lactobacillus fermentum or Lactobacillus amylovorus reduced body fat by 3�4% over a 6-week period (19).

Another study of 125 overweight dieters investigated the effects of Lactobacillus rhamnosus supplements on weight loss and weight maintenance (20).

During a 3-month study period, the women taking the probiotics lost 50% more weight compared to the group taking a dummy pill (placebo). They also continued to lose weight during the weight maintenance phase of the study.

Lactobacillus Gasseri

Of all the probiotic bacteria studied to date, Lactobacillus gasseri shows the most promising effects on weight loss. Numerous studies in rodents have found that it has anti-obesity effects (13, 21, 22, 23).

Additionally, studies in Japanese adults have shown impressive results (12, 24, 25).

One study followed 210 people with a lot of belly fat. It found that taking Lactobacillus gasseri for 12 weeks reduced body weight, fat around organs, BMI, waist size and hip circumference.

What�s more, belly fat was reduced by 8.5%. However, when participants stopped taking the probiotic, they gained back all of the belly fat within a month (25).

Bottom Line: Some strains of the Lactobacillus family have been shown to reduce weight and belly fat. Lactobacillus gasseri appears to be the most effective.

Some Probiotics May Prevent Weight Gain

Losing weight is not the only way to fight obesity. Prevention is even more important, as in preventing the weight from accumulating in the first place.

In one 4-week study, taking a probiotic formulation called VSL#3 reduced weight gain and fat gain on a diet where people were overfed by 1000 calories per day (26).

On this graph, you can see how the probiotic group gained significantly less fat:

probiotic weight chart

This indicates that some probiotic strains might be effective at preventing weight gain in the context of a high-calorie diet. However, this needs to be studied a lot more.

Bottom Line: Certain probiotic strains may be able to prevent weight gain on a high-calorie diet.

Some Probiotic Strains May Increase the Risk of Weight Gain and Obesity

pinup woman drinking kefir

Not all studies have found that probiotics help with weight loss.

Some studies have even found that certain probiotic strains might lead to weight gain, not loss. This includes Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus fermentum andLactobacillus ingluviei (27).

One recent study reviewed 4 controlled clinical trials. It concluded that probiotics did not reduce body weight, BMI or body fat levels in overweight or obese adults (28).

However, this review study did not include many of the studies mentioned above.

Bottom Line: Not all probiotics help with weight loss, and some of them may even cause weight gain. The effects depend on the probiotic strain, and may also vary between individuals.

Probiotics May be One Part of The Puzzle

Probiotics offer a wide range of health benefits.

However, their effects on weight are mixed, and seem to depend on the type of probiotic.

Evidence indicates that Lactobacillus gasseri may help people with obesity lose weight and belly fat. Additionally, a blend of probiotics called VSL#3 may reduce weight gain on a high-calorie diet.

If you are interested in trying them out, both Lactobacillus gasseri and VSL#3 are available on Amazon.

At the end of the day, certain types of probiotics may have modest effects on your weight, especially when combined with a healthy, real food-based diet.

However, there are many other reasons to take a probiotic supplement besides weight loss.

They can improve digestive health, reduce inflammation, improve cardiovascular risk factors and even help fight depression and anxiety.

For more evidence-based info on probiotics and their health benefits, read this article.

Do Multivitamins Really Work? The Surprising Truth

questioning brunette holding vitamins on plate 

Multivitamins are the most commonly used supplements in the world.

Their popularity has increased rapidly in the past few decades (1, 2).

Some people believe that multivitamins can improve health, make up for poor eating habits or even reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

But what does the science say about multivitamins? Do they actually work?

This article takes an evidence-based look.

What Are Multivitamins?

Multivitamins are supplemented that contain many different vitamins and minerals, sometimes along with other ingredients (3).

There is no real standard about what constitutes a multivitamin, and their nutrient composition varies by brand and product.

They go by several different names, including multivitamins, multi-minerals, multis, multiples or simply vitamins.

They are available in many forms, such as tablets, capsules, chewable gummies, powders, and liquids.

Most multivitamins should be taken once or twice a day. Make sure to read the label and follow the recommended dosage instructions.

Multivitamins are available in pharmacies, large discount stores, supermarkets and from online retailers like Amazon.

Bottom Line: Multivitamins are supplemented that contain many different vitamins and minerals. They are available in various forms.

multivitamins spilling out of bottleWhat do Multivitamins Contain?

There are 13 vitamins and at least 16 minerals that are essential to health.

Many of them participate in enzymatic reactions in the body, or function as hormones, signaling molecules or structural elements.

The body needs these nutrients for reproduction, maintenance, growth and regulation of bodily processes.

Multivitamins may contain many of these vitamins and minerals, but in varying forms and amounts. They can also contain other ingredients like herbs, amino acids, and fatty acids.

Because dietary supplements are not regulated, multivitamins may contain higher or lower levels of some nutrients than the label states (4).

In some cases, they may not even contain all of the nutrients that are listed. There have been many cases of fraud in the supplement industry, so it is important to purchase from a reputable manufacturer.

Also, the nutrients in multivitamins may be derived from real foods or created synthetically in laboratories.

Bottom Line: Multivitamins may contain herbs, amino acids, and fatty acids in addition to vitamins and minerals. Label fraud is common, and a number of nutrients can vary.

Multivitamins and Heart Disease

Heart disease is the most common cause of death worldwide (5).
heart and stethoscope

Many people believe that taking multivitamins can help prevent heart disease, but the evidence is not clear.

Results from observational studies on multivitamins and heart disease are mixed. Some studies have found a reduced risk of heart attacks and death while others have found no effects (6, 7, 8, 9).

For more than a decade, the Physicians� Health Study II investigated the effects of daily multivitamin use in over 14,000 middle-aged, male doctors.

It found no reduction in heart attacks or strokes and no reduction in mortality (10).
A recent study found that among women, but not men, taking a multivitamin for at least three years was linked to a 35% lower risk of dying from heart disease (11).

Bottom Line: Several observational studies have found multivitamin users to have a lower risk of heart disease. However, several others have found no connection. Overall, the evidence is mixed.

Multivitamins and Cancer

The evidence behind multivitamins and cancer risk is also mixed.
male doctor looking unhappy

Some studies have found no effect on cancer risk while others have linked multivitamin use to increased cancer risk (6, 8, 12, 13).

One review looked at results from 5 randomized, controlled trials (the gold standard of research) with a total of 47,289 participants.

They found a 31% lower risk of cancer in men, but no effect in women (14).

Two observational studies, one on women and the other on men, linked long-term multivitamin use with a reduced risk of colon cancer (15, 16).

The Physicians� Health Study II also found that long-term, daily multivitamin use reduced the risk of cancer in men with no cancer history. However, it had no effect on the risk of death during the study period (17).

Bottom Line: Some studies have linked multivitamin use to reduced the risk of cancer. However, other studies find no benefit, and some have even found an increased risk.

Do Multivitamins Have Any Other Health Benefits?

Multivitamins have been studied for several other purposes, including brain function and eye health.

woman holding a spoon full of pills

Brain Function

Several studies have found that multivitamin supplements can improve memory in older adults (18, 19, 20).

Supplementation may also improve mood. This makes sense because many studies have found links between poor mood and nutrient deficiencies (21, 22, 23, 24).

Additionally, a few more studies have found that multivitamin supplements can improve mood or reduce depressive symptoms (25, 26).

However, other studies have found no changes in mood (27).

Bottom Line: Some studies link multivitamin supplementation to improved memory and mood. However, other studies have found no changes in mood.

Eye Health

Age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of blindness, worldwide (28).

One study found that taking antioxidant vitamins and minerals may slow down its progression. However, there is no evidence that they prevent the disease from developing in the first place (29, 30).

There is also some evidence that multivitamins can reduce the risk of cataracts, another very common eye disease (31).

Bottom Line: Antioxidant vitamins and minerals may help slow down the progression of diseases that cause blindness.

Multivitamins May Be Harmful In Some Cases

More isn�t always better in nutrition.
yellow vitamin bottle

Although high doses of some vitamins and minerals are fine, others can be seriously harmful.

Vitamins are categorized into two groups, based on their solubility:
Water-soluble: Excess amounts of these vitamins are expelled by the body.

Fat-soluble: The body has no easy way to get rid of these, and excess amounts may build up over long periods of time.

Examples of fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Vitamins E and K are relatively nontoxic. However, vitamin A and vitamin D can exceed the body�s storage capacity, with toxic effects.

Pregnant women need to be especially careful with their vitamin A intake, as excess amounts have been linked to birth defects (32).

Vitamin D toxicity is extremely rare and is unlikely to happen from multivitamin use. However, vitamin A toxicity does occur from time to time (33, 34, 35).

If you eat a lot of nutrient-dense foods and then add a multivitamin on top of that, you can easily exceed the recommended daily intake of many nutrients.

Smokers should avoid multivitamins with large amounts of beta-carotene or vitamin A. It may increase the risk of developing lung cancer (36).

Minerals may also be harmful in high-dose supplementation. For example, high doses of iron can be downright dangerous for people who don�t need it (37, 38).

Additionally, faulty production often causes multivitamins to contain much larger amounts of nutrients than they are supposed to (39).

Bottom Line: Taking large doses of certain nutrients can have harmful effects. This is more likely to occur if you take a high-potency multivitamin on top of a nutrient-dense diet.

Who Should Take A Multivitamin?

There is no evidence that multivitamins should be recommended for everyone.
smiling elderly woman

In fact, chances are that they can cause harm in some individuals.

However, there are certain groups that may benefit from supplementing their diet with vitamins and minerals.

These include:
  • The elderly: Vitamin B12 absorption decreases with age, and elderly people may also need higher amounts of calcium and vitamin D (40, 41).
  • Vegans and vegetarians: These people are at high risk of vitamin B12 deficiency since this vitamin is only found in animal foods. They may also be lacking in calcium, zinc, iron, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids (42, 43).
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women: Pregnant and breastfeeding women should talk to their doctor about this. Some nutrients are needed while others (like vitamin A) can cause birth defects in large amounts (32).

Others may benefit from taking multivitamins as well. This includes people who have had weight loss surgery, are on low-calorie diets, have a poor appetite or don�t get enough nutrients from food alone for some reason.

If any of this applies to you, then you may be able to find a suitable high-quality multivitamin on Amazon. For example, you can find specific formulations for men, women, pregnant women, etc.

Bottom Line: Some individuals may need higher amounts of certain vitamins or minerals. This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women, elderly individuals, vegetarians, vegans and others.

Real Food Is Always Best

Multivitamins are not a ticket to optimal health.

In fact, the evidence that they improve health for most people is weak and inconsistent. They may even cause harm in some cases.

If you have a nutrient deficiency, then it is much smarter to supplement with only that specific nutrient. Multivitamins contain large amounts of everything, most of which you don�t need.

Additionally, taking a multivitamin to �fix� a poor diet is a bad idea. Eating a balanced diet of real food is much more likely to ensure good health in the long term.

Whenever possible, you should meet your nutrient needs with whole, single-ingredient, nutritious foods � not supplements